What is bonsai tree meaning? I used to ask that question when I started falling in love with that hobby. In this article, I want to share what I learn from bonsai books and websites, and more importantly, from my own feeling as well.
First, let’s talk about the literal meaning of the word. Bonsai, pronounced "bone sigh", originated from a Japanese word. It can be broken into two roots, that is, “bon”, which means a “tray” or a shallow container, and “sai” meaning “plant”. Thus simply, a plant in a tray is bonsai.
In early meaning, especially in old China and Japan, due to time-consuming aspect, bonsai indicated a wealthy pastime of the rich and noble classes. Nowadays, though tree nurturing becomes popular, it still demonstrates a gracious pastime.
Besides, tree cultivation also helps people feel something peaceful and closed to nature. It brings a sense of balance, and a harmony connection between nature and man. It arouses a sense of naturalness which has been subtly accentuated by human intervention but which is not spoiled by stark evidence of human interaction.
Another wonderful meaning is aesthetics, coming from the beauty of the tree or plant. According to Japanese tradition, the bonsai represents the three virtues, which translates into "truth," "goodness" and "beauty".
Nowadays, to many people in different continents, bonsai suggest something related to Asia. Most westerners look at it as a little touch of Asia in their homes. That’s because the origin of the art rooted from China, and was developed in Japan before it spread widely around the world.
And, another amazing meaning is that bonsai trees might become an heirloom because bonsai trees can live hundreds of years, and the older the trees the more valuable they are. That means a long-lived tree passing between generations might help to keep you feel closed to your ancestors, as well as convey your lifetime message to your descendants.
Personally, I myself like the feeling of being a giant besides miniaturized trees. Not only that, some bonsai styles show bravely strength of living in hard environment, which means a lot to Asian inhabitants.
Above is not an exhausted list of bonsai meanings, of course. Different people may have different interpretations while viewing a bonsai plant. So, give it a thought and you might feel bonsai tree meaning in your own way.